Monday, April 29, 2013

Who's the Top of the Food Chain? A.K.A. Cattle Egret Eating Gecko

Cattle Egret, Bubulcus ibis, holding on to a hapless gecko by the foot.  Losing his tail did this gecko no good.  Neither did blending in with the tree bark work to hide this little gecko from those sharp Egret eyes.  This particular egret had made a regular career out of hunting geckos and was going from tree to tree, methodically stalking around each tree looking for geckos.

Spotted Bass

Spotted Bass, Micropterus punctulatus, is native to the Mississippi River Basin and Southeastern United States where it is found in rivers and mountain streams.  This one part of a pair hungrily watching a school of mosquito fish in a small pond along the Otay River in San Diego, California.  They one of several species of bass that were introduced into Southern California for sport fishing.

Western Meadowhawk Dragonfly

Western Meadowhawk, Sympetrum occidentale, resting on a branch at Otay River Park in Chula Vista, California.  I sat next to this tiny branch and waited for him to land in front of my camera and, Voila!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Leafless Orchids

Chilochista lunifera, a leafless orchid, blooming in the sunroom.  These are native to the Himalayas, India, Assam, Burma, Thailand and Laos.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What is it?

Kudos to the first person who can correctly guess what this is!

Hawaiian Moorhen

'Alae 'Ula in Hawaiian.  This bird is also known as the Hawaiian Moorhen, a Federally and State listed endangered species endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, particularly swamp lands on Kauai and Oahu.  The state population, at one point, precariously hovered around 300 individuals.  The Hawaiian Moorhen is also known as Gallinula chloropus sandvicensis.  This particular bird was photographed at the river mouth of the Waimea River where it pours into Waimea Bay.  These little birds largely subsist on plants, roots, seeds and algae.  However, they are omnivorous and will also eat insects, fish and small snails and crustaceans.  In old Hawaii, they believed that 'Alae 'Ula brought fire to the Hawaii, as evidenced by its bright red beak.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hopping off of the Jump Rock at Waimea Bay

Jump Rock, Waimea Bay, Oahu, Hawaii.  People were doing all sorts of jumps, dives and other sorts of water entry on Sunday afternoon.  Everyone was having a great time including the large crowd of onlookers on the beach.  The parking lot at Waimea was jam packed with people waiting for spaces; however, there was parking at Waimea Valley for $5 if you were willing to walk.  Also, if you came early enough to pack in both, there was a Hawaiian music festival and luau going on in the park in Waimea Valley.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Junior Riding on Skindiver Mom

Child riding on his mom's back while she skin dives.  That's one way to go skin diving and not worry about leaving your child alone in the hotel or on the beach!  I can't help but think that he looks a little unhappy about the whole affair and he did cast occasional nervous stares at the incoming waves...  It was, however, one of the calmest days I've ever seen at Sunset beach.  The key to  the whole affair is the life jacket on junior that allows him to ride along without sinking mom.  No diving underwater allowed.  Still, they get an A+ for creativity.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Jeff Chang Potter

Jeff Chang throwing vases at the Windward Mall.  Jeff was very fast and extremely consistent.  There were another eight of these thrown vases lined up on a drying rack that he had made that afternoon.

Crouching Hen, Hidden Chick

Stalking feral mother hen with chicks, one of which is keeping step with Mom as they forage for bugs and crustaceans in the lawn at the Dole Plantation Visitors' Center. 

Mom and I stopped by Dole to take a look at the garden of historic pineapple varieties and the koi pond.  Dole has a whole series of nicely laid out and well maintained cement walkways through the gardens that are wheelchair accessible.  Sadly, the koi pond, which is a real favorite, was closed (perhaps for maintenance...).  Dole also has a the most wonderful pineapple ice cream (ice milk) that is totally refreshing during those hot Hawaiian days.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

Hawaiian Seabirds

Sooty Tern (Onychoprion fuscatus) or 'Ewa 'ewa (cacophony) in Hawaiian. Referred to as manutara (tern or common tern) elsewhere in Polynesia. A fair number of these terns were flying above the Makapu'u cliffs on a particularly windy day.

Red-tailed Tropicbird, Phaethon rubricauda, or Koa'e 'ula in Hawaiian.  Several of these birds were spotted flying high above the Makapu'u cliffs on Oahu on a particularly windy day (onshore wind).  These birds normally feed far out at sea where they dive for squid and flying fish.  They nest in low scrub, often on isolated atolls.  They are distributed across the Pacific, ranging from Hawaii to as far south as Queensland, Australia and Easter island.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hoya crassifolia

Hoya crassifolia in bloom at Kawamoto orchids.  This beautiful little Hoya is a native of China and has thick, waxy leaves.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sand Verbena

Sand Verbena, Abronia villosa aurita, Torrey Pines Reserve State Park. I have seen this beautiful species out in the Anza Borrego desert in the Spring. Imagine my surprise when I found it blooming along the seashore at Torrey Pines Reserve! Apparently, this species grows in both environments with variety aurita being found along the Southern California coast in sandy coastal scrub.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mandarin Duck

Mandarin Duck, Aix galericulata. These ducks are native to China, Japan and Russia; however, escaped domestic ducks have since populated parts of Europe and North American. These ducks favor woodland areas with ponds and marshes. Deforestation has resulted in reduced populations in their native habitat.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bottle by Duncan Ayscough

Bottle by Duncan Ayscough of the UK. The patterns are created using terra sigilatta, a liquid clay suspension typically mixed with other compounds to create color and varying effects and, likely, resists followed by surface carbonisation (such as through raku firing) impact the color of the final piece. The piece was also waxed (typically beeswax) for extra sheen and gold leaf was added to the interior. This piece is at the AMOCA (American Museum of Ceramic Arts) musuem in Pomona.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Blue Morpho Butterfly on White Hat

Blue Morpho Butterfly (Morpho peleides) on white hat. For some odd reason, these butterflies are attracted to white. In this picture, you can see two blue morphos on the same hat. If I recall, there was a third, for a brief moment, as well. In nature, the caterpillars of the Blue Morpho butterfly feed on plants in the pea family. Once mature, the butterflies live on the juice/fluid from rotting fruit, decomposing animals, tree sap, fungi and wet mud. Not the most apetizing menu. It's not at all clear what food or other stimulus the butterflies were mistaking this baseball cap for.

Morphos spend most of their time near the forest floor, which is understandable, given their diet. They range from Mexico through Columbia and are sometimes found in large swarms that are visible at great distances.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wild Hyacinth

Wild Hyacinth, also known as blue dicks, Dichelostemma pulchellum, blooming in open grassy meadows on the Santa Rosa Plateau.

Mylitta Crescent Butterfly

Mylitta crescent, Phyciodes mylitta, stopping by some flowers for a sip of nectar. Santa Rosa Plateau.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Winter Vetch

Winter Vetch, Vicia villosa, blooming in the meadow at the Santa Rosa Plateau. There were thousands of them spread out throughout the meadow, dancing like little purple butterflies in the wind. Most Vetch species are from the Mediterranean reagion although there are some 15 species native to the U.S.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Blushed Bougainvillea

A beautiful blushed bougainvillea in bloom at Tropic World Nursery. Unfortunately, I didn't find a name tag; but it is stunning nonetheless. Bougainvillea are native to South America with a few (perhaps 4) species, having contributed the lion's share of the genetics for the modern hybrids.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Silver Bush Lupine

Lupinus albifrons, Silver Bush Lupine, blooming at the peak of monument hill on the Santa Rosa Plateau. They were aflutter with Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies, Papilio rutlus. These are sizeable bushes as opposed to the other local lupine species. The Silver bush lupine grows from 3 to 5 feet in length and, when in bloom, puts on quite a show.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Pacific Rattlesnake, Crotalus oreganus helleri

Southern Pacific Rattlesnake, Crotalus oreganus helleri, hanging out by the entry kiosk at the Santa Rosa Plateau. In fact, at least one person almost ran into it. It pays to pay attention to what you're walking on when you hike. This one is a youngster, perhaps about a year old, with only three rattles. They get one rattle per molt and molt about 2-3 times a year. — at Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve.

Wild Buttercups in Southern California

Wild Buttercup, Ranunculus occidentalis, Santa Rosa Plateau, California. Quite different from the line bred hybrids that grace the flower fields of Carlsbad, California. These bright little flowers are born up high on delicate stems and cover whole fields as they gently sway in the breeze.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

AOS San Diego Judging Awards for February 2013

Papilionanthe biswasiana HCC/AOS 78 pts

San Diego County Orchid Society 2013 Spring Show

Den. Delicatum 'Lise' CCM/AOS 85pts

Den. Little Saigon 'Irvine #6' AM/AOS 81pts

Den. Little Saigon 'Irvine #6' AM/AOS 81pts

Den. Moondaara 'Irvine' AM/AOS 81pts

Epidendrum Pacific Whimsey 'Bright Eyes' AM/AOS 80pts

Lc. Hot Sauce 'Hot Ruben' HCC/AOS 75pts

Lycaste Nagai International 'Spring Bouguet' AM/AOS 82pts

Paph. Macabre Contrast (Bronze CSA?)

Paphiopedilum Ross Otto 'Round as Can Be' FCC/AOS 91pts

Phalaenopsis San Jacinto King 'Ryan' AM/AOS 80pts

(Potinara Little Toshi x Potinara Mem. Jim Nickou) 'Dean's Gold ' AM/AOS 81pts